The freedom of speech, as well as the freedom of religion that we possess here in the United States, is a wonderfully simple concept – despite how complicated some have tried to make it over the last few decades.
Our Constitutions guarantees that we can practice our religions freely, and speak freely about it, period. Those who wish to not hear that message are free to remove themselves from the situation or enter the discussion themselves, but they don’t have a right to silence others.
The Supreme Court has now put this in stone for us.
The 8-1 decision, authored by Justice Clarence Thomas, said that Chike Uzuegbunam — who was silenced by Georgia Gwinnett College officials even after he had obtained a permit to proselytize and handout religious literature — can seek nominal damages despite the fact that the school ultimately changed course and Uzuegbunam subsequently graduated.
In a very rare alignment of votes, Chief Justice John Roberts was the lone dissenting justice in the case.
“It is undisputed that Uzuegbunam experienced a completed violation of his constitutional rights when respondents enforced their speech policies against him,” wrote Justice Thomas. “Because ‘every violation [of a right] imports damage,’ nominal damages can redress Uzuegbunam’s injury even if he cannot or chooses not to quantify that harm in economic terms.”
The move is a huge win for religious rights, and speaks to the lasting legacy that former President Donald Trump has had on the Supreme Court.
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